The Prime Minister set out plans for a binding poll by November 2018. And confirmed that a victory for the “No” campaign would lead to the UK’s exit from the EU.
The momentous pledge is seen as the biggest victory yet for the Daily Express’s crusade for Britain to quit the EU and will delight the newspaper’s loyal army of readers.
Mr Cameron vowed: “It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics.”
The long-anticipated speech – delivered at Bloomberg – cheered Tory backbenchers tired of the growing avalanche of regulations and meddling from Brussels and frustrated by past Government betrayals of referendum pledges.
Tory MP Dominic Raab hailed a “moderate, statesman-like approach … rightly focused on a fundamental change in strategic direction rather than tactics”.
“The ball is now in the EU’s court,” he said.
While Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said the Prime Minister was “bang on” with his speech.
He said: “What most sensible people want is to belong to the single market but to lop off the irritating excrescences of the European Union.
“We now have a chance to get a great new deal for Britain – that will put the UK at the heart of European trade but that will also allow us to think globally.”
Mr Cameron made clear that the Conservative Party will go into the next general election with a pledge to try to win a new deal in Europe.